It is raining here this morning which is something we really need. As I recall we had about a quarter inch of rain in June and May was fairly dry too. Not only that but daily temps in June averaged 4-5 degrees above normal, above 90 most days in June. Very hot, very dry and not an easy month for gardeners! So far we’ve had just over an inch in the past two days, maybe 1.25 and that’s not enough. We could easily do with another 5-7 inches, preferably spread over a week or so! My rain barrels have filled a bit but have a long way to go and the swale has yet to show any signs of filling. Looks like we’ll get a good bit today and then they say a good chance of rain much of next week with temps at or below 90 so that is welcome news. Lesson learned this summer? Heavy mulch will only do so much to retain moisture. No doubt it is a huge help but things DO eventually dry out!!
So, the garden looks pretty ragged. The potatoes and tomatoes in particular. One bed of tomatoes look okay but the other two have struggled. I planted onions and lettuce in those beds in early spring with the intention of having a nice living mulch and it did not work out so well. Back in late March/ early April not long Ifter I got my lettuce, spinach, carrots and other cool weather crops planted we had a pretty nasty hot spell and weeds started popping up everywhere. The end result was that the beds of annual green veggies I envisioned were heavily mixed with LOTS of weeds and not nearly thick enough to really serve as a mulch for the tomatoes which got planted in later. The tomatoes which I mulched with newspaper and straw is, by far, the best of the tree beds. Next year I’ll go back to the paper/straw mulch and just plant the outer edges with basil and flowers.
I got my squash in a bit late and that was another mistake. With the exception of a couple lost most survived the heat and are growing but they are not thriving. The watermelon volunteer that sprouted up early is doing great and has taught me that next year I REALLY need to get my squash/melons started earlier. In fact, really, I think I need to get EVERYTHING started about a month earlier. All that said, I do have better potatoes than last year and a nice bed of carrots and I had a great harvest of sugar snap peas. The blackberries that I left out in the food forest by the chicken forage have done great this year and I’m really glad I left them when I set up that area. I’ve been harvesting many big handfuls everyday. I probably could have set some aside for preserving but have just been eating them up! Further out from the cabin I know the blackberries are producing gobs of fruit so I really should go out and gather some.
Last would be the food forests and they are doing pretty well considering the drought. Blueberries, currants, gooseberries and pawpaws are doing great. I’ve got gobs of comfrey I need to get put in the ground and am going to give the last few rhubarb plants to Karen. I think I’ve got 12 rhubarb plants in the ground now. Yeah, that’s a crazy amount of rhubarb but it is a beautiful plant and fairly easy to grow. I’ll give or sell what I can’t eat! I’ve planted it with Comfrey around the greenhouse and in the food forest behind my cabin.
One last thing, not about the homestead but about the local farmers market: fantastic! I went last night and came home with a bag of sweet corn gifted by Karen and David (THANKS!!) as well as a loaf of Donna’s yummy home made bread. Also a very nice cucumber and some peaches. Dinner was a cucumber tomato sandwich, two of those actually and 4 cobs of sweet corn. I don’t cook the corn or add anything at all, just peel and eat!! I’m surprised more people don’t eat it that way. It doesn’t need to be cooked and is so sweet and juicy. Yeah, the corn was desert. Oh, oh and a big glass of iced Kombucha too thanks to Juli. It took 10 days but the fermenting tea is now a perfectly fizzy and tasty treat. The perfect meal to eat while enjoying the soft patter of rain on the roof.